March 18, 2013
Native American Woman: Zitkala-Sa
The month of March is Women’s History Month and one of my favorite months of the year. This month has the opportunity to entice people learn about women from all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds, and encourage women to admire those who’ve made a difference. There are many Native American women who’ve fought and died for the rights of their tribe and sex, but she is by far one of my favorite ones. Through literature, music, and politics, she fought to change the thoughts and beliefs of White America so their views of Native American culture could be better ones.
Name of Important Woman
I chose to write about one of my favorite Native American authors and activists, Gertrude Simmons Bonnin. Zitkala Sa, which means Red Bird in the Lakota dialect, is a name she gave herself after she left the tribe and graduated from college (Giese 1996) so she is known by both names. She was born February 22, 1876 at the Yankton Sioux Reservation (Johnson and Wilson 1988:27) and she “died at 61 and was buried in Arlington Cemetery (due to her husband's service in World War I)” in 1938 (Hoefel 1999).
Gertrude Simmons Bonnin is considered a part of the Yankton Sioux Tribe. She was the mixed child of John Haysting Simmons, a man of Anglo-French decent (Johnson and Wilson 1988:27) and full blooded Yankton Sioux Indian Ellen Tate 'I yohiwin “She Reaches for the Wind” Simmons (Henderson 1997). She identified more with her Native American roots because of the traditional teachings her mother taught her. Her mother taught her the ways and language of the Yankton Sioux and even raised her in “a tipi on the Missouri River until she was 12” (Hoefel 1999).
Gertrude Simmons Bonnin/Zitkala-Sa is such an important woman because of her positive contributions to the Native